Beekeeping in the Manawatu 2018

Beeswax is an ideal product to make candles like this one. These 100% beeswax candles burn cleanly, without dripping or smoking, and release the smell of honey.

This is a photo of a corner of the observation hive shown on the left.

Note the queen bee with a dot of blue paint to make her easy to find. The colour also indicates her age. She is laying eggs in the empty cells. Most of the cells have a larva (baby bee) curled up in the bottom. The worker bees are feeding them.

We do not harvest from the observation hive, yet the bees have too little honey to last all winter. Outside the window there is a shelf that acts as a landing pad for the returning bees. A couple of petri dishes containing straw and sugar syrup are kept there in winter so they have enough food despite few flowers being available.

This photograph showing bees drinking the syrup was entered in the Manawatu Beekeepers' Club competition in May 2015 and won first prize.

Warre Hive

We finally set up our new Warre hive in 2017, and produced our first honey in 2018.

Boxes are added to the bottom instead of the top when more space is needed. It is a task that is best done by two or three beekeepers as the hive grows large.

These frames have been removed from the small nucleus hive for inspection, before placing them into a full-sized hive box.  The pale and larger drone brood is easy to distinguish when seen with the worker brood on the same frame. 

By splitting colonies into nuclei, and placing a queen bee in each, it is possible to increase the number of hives.

Setting up the Natural Comb Hive

The top bar hive has frames built onto the bars so they can be inspected, the same as in a Langstroth hive (allows us to check for disease).

Just a few days after putting a spring swarm into the natural comb hive the frames were removed to see that they had developed as planned.

The foundation was built upon to produce cells which filled the frames, despite the lack of wires.

When full of honey it will be easy to cut the comb into sections.


Last year for the first time we made some sections of comb honey. Four of the sections in this frame are complete and a fifth almost finished.

In March 2017 the honey was extracted.

The wax on the frames was shaved off with uncapping forks. Then they were spun in a hand-cranked extractor to remove the honey.

The final products:

Mixed floral creamed honey made from the local nectars, and bags of honey toffee.

Sections of comb honey were harvested during last autumn, just before putting the hives down for the winter.

The fifteen sections proved popular.  This year we are using the new plastic frames with beeswax painted onto them.  The bees should build their cells from this foundation, then fill them with honey.

The most popular product is honey gelato, which we made for the first time in 2015. It replaced the ice cream we had manufactured previously.

  With one kilogram of honey added to each four litres of milk this has a strong honey taste. 

There is no added cream, just that in whole milk.

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